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The Promised Land

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The Land belongs to God.
Leviticus 25:234 states:
“The land must not be sold without reclaim because the land belongs to me, for you are foreigners and residents with me.”
Basic to an understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures with respect to the Hebrews’ themselves, is recognition of the vital connection between a specific area of land5 and a specific people in covenant6 relationship with God. The preceding context (Lev. 25:8-12) of the above verse (Lev. 25:23) deals with the observance of the year of jubilee, while its surrounding context (Lev. 25:13- 34) discusses the effects of the year on the possession of property. The Israelites were to buy and sell property in view of the upcoming year of jubilee during which time all property would revert to its original tribal leasees. This special year reminded the Israelites that they really didn’t own the land themselves but were tenants of God, the true owner. So then one key aspect of the jubilee year is its declaration that the land was ultimately God’s possession, and as such no individual had the inalienable right to sell or incorporate as they saw fit.

  1. The Land was given by God to the descendants of Abraham.

In Genesis 12:7, we read:
” The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.”
This promise of land is one key aspect7 of the Abrahamic Covenant. In scripture the concept of covenant refers to an agreement or contract between two parties that binds one or both parties to certain obligations and commitments. In several passages the Abrahamic Covenant is expressly portrayed as eternal and therefore unconditional (Gen. 13:15; 17:7, 13, 19; 48:4; 1 Chron. 16:17; Ps. 105:10). This means that it is only binding on the party making the promise. In the Abrahamic covenant God alone commits Himself to a course of action through Abraham and his descendants that cannot be reversed (else God would prove untrue) and cannot be annulled by the failure of either Abraham or his descendants. However, it should also be noted that while the gift or title deed to the land is unconditional, actual enjoyment of the land is conditioned upon obedience. In Deutoronomy 29:2-30:1, Moses prophetically spoke of Israel’s coming disobedience to the Mosaic Law and subsequent scattering over the entire world. This is one reason8 why full restoration of Israel to its land9 with complete peace and security will require the second coming of Messiah—immediately prior and scripturally requisite10 to that great eschatological event is foretold the spiritual regeneration of Jewish physical survivors of the Tribulation resulting in a new capacity to render Spirit–empowered obedience to God.

  1. This Land was not given to the Descendants of Ishmael, but rather to the Descendants of Isaac11.

In Gen. 17:18 “Abraham said to God, ‘that Ishmael might live before you!” The phrase “might live before you” can also be translated as “might live with your blessing.” The point is Abraham himself considered Ishmael as a possible descendant to whom God would give this land. However, in the very next verse (v. 19)“God said, ‘No, Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son and you will name him Isaac. I will confirm my covenant with him as a perpetual covenant for his descendants after him.” In Gen. 17:20 God promised to bless Ishmael and use him to create a great nation, but His covenant to Abraham, (which again prominently included the specific promise of land), was to be accomplished through his son Issac, not Ishmael (Gen. 17:21)12.

  1. This Land was not given to the Descendants of Esau, but only to Jacob.

As in the previous point, even though God promised to bless Abraham’s descendants, He singled out only one branch of his family for covenant blessing. Romans 9:10-13 stresses that God’s choice Jacob over Esau are for reasons that lay within Himself, not because any human merits election13. This is why in Gen. 28:13-15; 35:11-12; and 48:3-4 God Himself through direct revelation is portrayed as convincing Jacob of his covenant destiny specifically in relation to the promise of land.

  1. God is Restoring Jewish People to the Land.

The Bible predicts that Israel will initially return to the land of promise in unbelief. Ezekiel 36:24 states, I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you to your land.” The next two verses continue, “I will sprinkle pure water over you and you will be clean from all your uncleanness; I will purify you from all your idols. I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh.”
From the sequence of events depicted in these verses it should be noted that the national restoration of the Jewish people precedes the spiritual regeneration of the Jewish people14. Therefore, it should not surprise us that Israel was reborn as a secular state by secular Jews for this is a precursor of the day when the entire nation turns in faith to Jesus as Messiah.
This return to the land in stages is also borne out in the vision of a valley of dry bones from Ezekiel 37. In verses 6-10 the bones come to life in stages. First, the sinews or tendons on the bones, then flesh, then skin, and finally the breath of life. Then in verse 11, God tells Ezekiel that “these bones are the house of Israel,” and their restoration is illustrative of the way He will bring His people back “to the land of Israel” (v. 12). Thus, the regathering of Israel to its land should not be viewed as a single event but rather a process which culminates in the Jewish people receiving the breath of life by turning to their Messiah.
John Kanter is a National Ministry Representative for CJF (Christian Jew Foundation)2 Ministries and holds a Master of Arts from Dallas Theological Seminary. by John S. Kanter, M.A. Copyright © 1995-2009 Leadership U.

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